2015 Where is LeeZe? Thassos > Samothraki
2015-07-29: We depart Kavala for the island of Thassos. We plan to spend a night at Skala (The Port of) Prinos on the west side of the island and then move the next day to the main port on the NE side of the island. We arrive at Prinos and while anchoring, a Greek Coast Guard person on the shore is yelling at me to move. After much hand waving and yelling, I get them on VHF Ch 12 and the person (who would NOT give his name) told us that he wants us to anchor 1 MILE off shore. I am SHOCKED. Why? He says we otherwise will interfere with the ferry boats. I offer to move away from the port and more toward the beach clubs but he insists, 1 MILE! Finally, I propose and he agrees that if I move 250 meters off shore, that would be fine. (I figured that he probably was not the smartest person on the block and that a shift in units (from miles to meters) would confuse him enough, and I think I was right.
We move, set the anchor, and do admit that the huge ferry boat from Kavala does seem to pass fairly close.
We go ashore that night to check in, cannot find the harbor office, walk around and come back.
The next day we planned to move but for some reason, I blurted out that maybe we should stay another day and go to the beach club nearby.
Everyone agrees and we do that, having a great day. We come back to LeeZe, change, and go back to town to eat.
2015-07-31: The weather is starting to build but my GRIB forecast says that once we round the northern cape of the island, the wind will die down and the waves will flatten. So, we are underway and GRIB is right. We approach Limenas, Thassos from the west and the harbor's entrance is hidden from view by the multitude of ferry boats that are at the slips. We get into the harbor, drop the hook and call the Port on VHF Ch 12. They finally answer and tell us to call them on the cell phone, giving us only 5 numbers. Trying NOT to to sound stupid, I ask them for their entire telephone # and they seem exasperated that I have to ask. (A harbinger of things to come?) Eventually I get them on the cell and we agree on a spot to med moor along the wall.
We do moor, and it goes relatively smoothly, except in the end, I feel I am way to close to a small cabin cruiser to port. But that gets resolved and Zehra and I go to check in. I made a FUNDAMENTAL error. I failed to bring our guests' passports with us. Since we had added their names to the cruising log in Kavala, I did not think I would need them.
But this Port Authority (Greek Coast Guard) made it ABSOLUTELY HARD to check in. They wanted to see our passports, insurance, registration and my license to drive LeeZe. I told him that the USA does not require us to have a license and then he spouted some BS that Greek Law requires me to have a license. He wanted me to prove to him that I was not required to have a license. (How does one prove a negative?) He would NOT let us leave while he checked what to do with us and while the office was cool, I at least felt that I was being detained. In all the years that we have been coming to Greece, this question has never come up.
So while this "person" is running around trying to see what to do with us, he does stamp our cruising log (after calling Kavala to confirm that our guest has indeed checked in there) and puts in on his desk. While he is "out and about" Zehra suggests I give to him my USCG card saying that I completed a safe boating course back in 1999. I do, he is happy, and we get to leave. But the issue is still not resolved because the next American owner who comes into Thassos will have to go thru the same rigamarole because this person / office does not understand the rules. (We has this same question asked of us in Marmaris, Turkey some years ago by the agent we had to hire to check into Turkey. To make a long story short, she ACTED like she did us a favor by convincing the Port Captain that I did not need a license. Later that same week, we physically went to the Port Captain, and looked at his rules, which EXPLICITLY state that if the host country does not require their owner-captains to have licenses, neither can Turkey. MY guess is that this is the same in Greece.)
I intend to resolve after we depart Greece as I feel that if I made a scene now, retribution will follow.
2015-08-02. We are really enjoying this port and today, I wanted all of us to got to a real beach club and relax. But Murphy heard me and about 1030, one of our guests tells me that the toilet will NOT flush. In addition, at about the same time, I figured out that the head's shower/sink sump pump is also not working.
After trying all of the usual tricks to get the head to flush, I realize it is really broke and that I need to disassemble it and install the spare macerator I have. I kick everyone off and over the next 8-9 hours, replace the macerator and the electronic control panel because that also was burned out.
I have NO idea how it came to be that three items (macerator, control panel AND sump pump) all broke at the same time, and with guests on board!
I am not going to go thru the gory and messy details but it is NOT a job I every want to do again! The new macerator came with a different piping arrangement than the old one and I had to try a couple of times to get it all to go together and connect with the piping in the bulkhead. (For those that might not know, the entire inner workings of a toilet are in and under the toilet bowl, where space is a premium and not a whole lot of ways to check for leaks!) Then, worried about leaks, but keeping an eye toward the future that so poor slob, (hopefully NOT me) would have to replace it, I used sealing caulk where needed, but did not go overboard. (The yard must have used TUBES of the stuff when assembling the toilet because it was everywhere!.)
The actual job to replace the control panel required me to fish wires thru a narrow space behind the bulkhead to a junction box under the sink. I knew to use string and attach it to the old wires so when I pulled them out, the string would be my guide but all did not go as planned. (Murphy!) Hours later, got the wires thru and reconnected them per the photos I took before taking they apart.
It is now nearly 1900 and Zehra has been back from the beach for a couple of hours, just to lend moral support. (BTW thanks honey, I really did need it!)
(I replaced the sump pump while waiting for the sealing caulk to dry. Of course, even though I had an exact spare, the new one came wired differently and that took some noodling also. Ugh!)
Time to test… and it works! The macerator does its thing and I am relieved. Ah, Murphy strikes again because when Zehra goes to use it and there is NO water during the flush cycle. (I guess I had missed that when checking.
But I find that by manually adding water, it works so I ask all to use the toilets ashore for their solid waste until I can resolve the water issue.
Now it is Monday and I then ask everyone to go topside, ashore, somewhere else while I resolve the water issue. (one guest departs for the mainland to buy bus tickets to go home.)
I verify that the valves are properly aligned up to the solenoid valve. I check the wiring and determine that I had mis-wired the power wire to the solenoid and when I switch them, still no water. THINKING that the wiring mistake fried the solenoid, I go to get a spare from the locker and install it, double and triple checking the wiring.
Still no water. By this time, I am frustrated, 4 hours has passed, and I am no closer to getting water.
So, I go up to the aft deck and make myself an electrical and piping drawing, and stare at it.
And stare at it. Finally a light bulb comes on. I can test the control board. During its function, the solenoid gets power, then the macerator, then the solenoid again. So, this time, armed with a VOM, and with Zehra pushing the buttons, I determine the controller is working!
So now I turn my attention to the solenoid valve itself. While Zehra pushes buttons, I determine that the proper voltage is getting to the solenoid. (Had to disassemble the solenoid to test.) After reassembly, I asked Zehra to push the buttons again but for some unknown reason, I left my hand on the solenoid! As the controller cycled, I felt a vibration as the solenoid tries to do its job, I also noticed that there were some small bubbles in the clear hose on the discharge side of the solenoid.
Thought that was strange, so I went to the back of the toilet and with a bucket in hand, removed the hose to see if water would flow out. Did NOT have to push any buttons! There was a blockage. I fished out three sheets of what appears to be toilet paper. Pondered that for a minute, reconnected the hose and cycled the controller.
Water appears, the macerator flushes, water cleans.
All is well again. Of course, the guests are mortified. They blame themselves for breaking it, and then watched me work 2 days to get it repaired. Of course even after all this, I still ask that everyone do their solid waste removal ashore for another day while I check for leaks. There is water everywhere and it will take days to dry before I am 100% sure there are no leaks.
(BTW, I am still pondering how TP made it to the flush hose. If TP had somehow got into the fresh water tank, there is a pump, three filters, and a solenoid valve that it has to get past to get where I found it. Not likely, I think. Been there since new construction? Why show up now, 4 years later? Clueless and I believe I will never learn the answer!)
Meanwhile, our guests make arrangements to depart on Saturday. I am ASSURED that they are not leaving over this "event" but ……
Our guests do depart Saturday evening, 8 Aug, by ferry, then two local buses to the long distance Bus Station, then an 8+ hour bus ride into Istanbul to pick up Mom and their car.
It is 10 Aug before we are convinced that that the toilet is not leaking and I can finally properly mount it. It makes more noise, and different noises than the last one.
And yes, I did disassemble the broken macerator. The motor is burned up and the impeller is quite hard to turn. I guess when the motor seized, it drew a big current thru the control board burning up some components. Since I was not there when it happened, I did not see the black smoke that may have escaped.
And remember about retribution? The Greek Coast Guard person that gave us a hard time harassed another Greek boater near to me, threatening him with a "large" fine BECAUSE the boat's name (Aqua) has to be in Greek letters and not "English" letters. Really???? The guy is a lawyer and will sort it out, but in plain view, there are three large GREEK ferry boats with their names in "English" letters, not Greek letters. The owner of this boat did say that he had complained the last time he was here about the garbage in the harbor so…… (fill in the ending yourself).
We did take one day to take a ferry boat ride across the straits to Kerimodi. The cost for two r/t was 14 euros. Kerimodi had really nothing to offer us. It is a small town whose basic purpose is to service the ferry boat users. There appear to be nice beaches there, but Thassos' are nicer.
2015-08-22: Back on 8 Aug, just before our guests departed, Zehra and one of the guests went to the Greek Coast Guard office to remove their names from our sailing list. Zehra is not quite sure what was done then because today, when we went to the SAME office, there was again a rigmarole because the staff on duty said that our paperwork stilled showed the guests on board. We are BOTH clueless as to how this got screwed up, but it did. It took nearly 45 minutes for them to find in THEIR "deck log" that we had come on 8 Aug to remove their names. Then they spent MINUTES explaining to us how they were going to fix it, then minutes to fix it, and then FINALLY, our exit stamp.
For the record: Thassos' Greek Coast Guard office is the worst by far office we have had to deal with ever since we have been coming to Greece since 2011. The worst, by far. Hands down. The island is wonderful. They really taint it.
Some thoughts about this island and this city. There is a "farmer's market" in the city of Prinos (inland from the Port of Prinos) every Monday. We went and we were not impressed. If one uses these markets in Turkey, this one will disappoint. If not, by all means go!. There is public bus that takes you within meters of the market's entrance and it takes you back directly to the city wall you will be moored at. The city bus also goes around the island 3 times a day so if you want a cheap windshield tour, there is one.
The public beach just notheast of the Old Port is the place we spent many afternoons. The water is clear and clean and mostly clear of rocks. The beach has three huge trees that provide all the shade from the blistering sun one would want. There is a fresh water shower and a changing room. I did dig this up from the beach:
To me, it looked like a stone encased key and some type of tool. I gave it to the local museum and never heard from them. My guess is that they had a huge laugh at my expense.
You need to buy a "key" from City Hall (restored two story building at the old Port) (use the back steps and go up to the second floor to purchase the key) (open M-F 08-1400, holidays and weekends closed!) to get electricity and water from the Shore Power pods, but otherwise, there is no fee to moor at the wall. The pods have 16 amp connections, as well as 3 phase 32 amp and 3 phase 63 amp connections. They do NOT have a single phase 32 amp connection. Therefore, if you are a 32 amp boat like me and want 32 amps, need to have a male, 3 phase, 32 amp (4 pins) or 63 amp (5 pins) to single phase 32 amp connector on board. I could not find any shop on the island that sold any marine 3 phase connectors. If all you need is water, there is a free water tap in the corner where the quay and the city wall meet. The locals use this water a lot. Try not to loiter.
There is NO cost to med-moor at the city wall or side moor (they call it "English" moor) along the quay wall. None. Nada, ABSOLUTELY FREE!!
There is very limited electricity on the quay, and a lot of working pods of the city wall.
The city wall is elevated about 1 meter above the nearby street so street noise is very very low. The pubs and cafes play music well into the night, but not loud. The city seems to roll up the sidewalks at about 0300 and roll them out again at about 0800.
The old port.
This port was built by the Romans and they would still recognize it to this day. The sea wall offers little in the way of protection from a rough sea. Some port guides suggest one could moor in that harbor but I think one needs local knowledge to do that safely. I saw no boater other than locals use this harbor.
If you need something fixed, there is a small shipyard at the Port of Prinos. Thomas (+306979614650) who speaks a little English runs their workshops there and will try to help. I saw NO marine store in town. I am told by some boaters that they get their supplies in Kavala.
If you need a full fledged boat yard, give Manitsas Stavros a call at +302594023180 / +306944365503 (ManitsasMarine.com). Per nearly all the boaters that I talked with they all winter their boats with him.
Lastly, keep a sharp eye out for a 1938 Greek flagged wood boat named Lalin, No 26.
It was the 26th boat registered in Greece and languished for years on the hard, until a man bought it 20 years ago and has been slowly over time, restoring it to its as-built condition. He is now quite old and his family has agreed to continue the project. It med moored next to me a couple times and it is quite a sight to see. (Thomas was on that boat three times to fix things so he told me the story.)
2015-08-23. We depart today for Samothraki, Gr, an island about 36 nm away.